CSKA president Vatutin: While Itoudis is with the club, Mike James cannot be with us

2021-05-18T13:38:53+00:00 2021-05-18T14:15:25+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

18/May/21 13:38


Dimitris Itoudis remaining with CSKA means that Mike James will not be coming back.

By Antonis Stroggylakis / info@eurohoops.net

CSKA Moscow president Andrey Vatutin ruled out the possibility of guard Mike James returning to the team as long as coach Dimitris Itoudis remains at the helm.

“It’s clear that while Dimitris [Itoudis] is with the club, Mike [James] cannot be with us,” Vatutin said in an interview for the Russian Match. The interview was published a day after CSKA announced that Itoudis signed a new contract with the team through 2023.

Vatutin basically confirmed something that had already become apparent after James’ latest suspension: That the broken relationship between Itoudis and James cannot be mended, at least not enough for the two of them to work together on CSKA.

Itoudis and James had a dispute during a timeout in a VTB League game against Unics Kazan in late March that led to Greek coach suspending his star player for a second time in three months. Eventually, James became “a free agent until the end of the 2020-21 season,” per CSKA so that he could join the Brooklyn Nets.

James is technically under a three-year contract that he signed with CSKA in 2020 and after his debut season with the Russian powerhouse. He left Moscow as EuroLeague’s leading scorer (19.3 points) at the moment of his departure from CSKA.

“The decision was made by the coach, the roots were in the relationship of two people. And relationships are about characters. It happens in families, there’s a spark and suddenly a fire. Even I don’t know all the details of what happened, both sides see the situation their own way,” Vatutin said. “Until recently, I believed that a consensus would be found, but alas. Mike is a person with his own characteristics., a great player. He congratulated me and one of the partners on reaching the Final Four.”

James signed multiple 10-day contracts and his performances then secured him a stay in Brooklyn for the rest of the season.

“I’m glad for his success in the NBA, except that the headlines were in the spirit of “CSKA ran out of money’,” Vatutin said. “Parting with leaders when they are under a contract is never painless, but Mike’s good performances at Brooklyn benefit both him and us.”

Despite James’ exit, CSKA went on to win six straight EuroLeague games, including a sweep over Fenerbahce Beko in the playoffs, to advance to the Final Four for the ninth season in a row.